Wickremesinghe returns as Sri Lanka’s PM

Wickremesinghe speaks to media at St Anthony's Shrine in Colombo, Sri Lanka, this still image obtained from a video. Photo Grab: Derana TV/via Reuters TV

NEW DELHI: Political veteran Ranil Wickremesinghe, appointed Sri Lanka’s new prime minister on Thursday, faces an unenviable task of getting the country out of its current financial morass.

He replaces 76-year-old Mahinda Rajapaksa, who resigned on Monday amid growing unrest over the government’s handling of the unprecedented economic crisis.

Wickremesinghe, 73, leader of the United National Party (UNP), was sworn in by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the president’s office.

Gotabaya said Wickremesinghe “stepped up to take on the challenging task of steering our country through a very turbulent time”.

Wickremesinghe is the only lawmaker from his party in the 225-seat parliament and has a tough job to secure support for his policies.

It is for the sixth time that the veteran politician has assumed the country’s prime ministership.

A lawyer by training, he was elected to Parliament for the first time in 1977 and became a cabinet minister at the age of 29 in 1978.

Calming public anger over inflation and shortages of essential goods as well as securing cash from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to steady the economy will be among his formidable challenges.

At least nine people have been killed and hundreds injured in violence in recent days. — BERNAMA

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